Putting together a technology stack for a startup or a new product development can become a “project within a project,” as there are too many factors to consider and too many options to choose from. With wisely chosen tools, your development will run like clockwork, while a poor choice of technology will only multiply the problems.
Choosing the front-end development framework is a challenging task. If you try to figure out the pros and cons of the available frameworks, you are sure to come across tons of reasoning for each of them and may be back to square one.
Maybe, Angular? It is the oldest one – it should be the most comprehensive.
Or, should we choose React? Many people love React, and all of them cannot be wrong.
What about Vue.js? It is new, so it should be better than the other ones.
Let’s look under the hood of each of the three major front-end development frameworks to see what makes them stand out and in which cases they perform best. We hope to throw some light at the matter of selecting the most suitable one and to answer the central question: “Which framework should I choose – Angular, React or Vue.js and why?”
Angular, React, Vue.js – then and now
As was mentioned already, Angular is the oldest of the three and has seen quite a number of transformations.
It is a fully-featured framework for front-end web development. It first came to be under the name of AngularJS and was later renamed to just Angular with numbered versions. Oh, by the way – it was created and is still being developed by Google if this can persuade you.
React positions itself as a library rather than a framework. Its only purpose is building user interfaces, however; it does it brilliantly.
React is a brainchild of Facebook and Instagram, which, quite naturally, use it in their UI’s.
Vue.js cannot boast such magnificent ancestry. In fact, it is a one-man project built by Evan You, a former Google developer who was determined to create something as good as Angular but more lightweight.
And he seems to have succeeded in this, as, although only four years old, Vue.js is often the framework of choice both for startup projects and large established brands.
Let’s look at the most significant features of Angular, React and Vue.js to see for which projects they are the most suitable.
While choosing the development framework that would be the most optimal for your project, a good practice will be consulting your developers. Their knowledge and experience of a specific technology may be an argument for or against a particular option.
That is where the similarity ends, as all three frameworks are different already at the level of the language syntax which has its impact on the learning curve.
Compared to Angular and React, learning Vue.js is a breeze. Vue.js works with a template-based syntax that is clear and valid HTML.
Thus, any code created in Vue.js can be inserted into an HTML file without any conversions.
Speaking of learning, Angular and Vue.js are famous for their excellent documentation, while React lags behind.
In the context of development frameworks, size matters, because it is directly related to the application performance. Both the framework and the app itself need to be downloaded before the application becomes functional.
In this respect, Angular is the heaviest of all with 143k. It is followed by React with 43k while Vue.js is the most lightweight – its size is only 23k. Therefore, if your application is not too large and contains no sophisticated components, the recommended way is to choose a smaller framework.
In Web applications, performance is directly related to the Document Object Model, or DOM, which represents the web page both in the browser and in the code. Through DOM, web pages can be manipulated in case of any updates.
Angular uses the regular DOM with the entire web page re-rendered even if only a single item is changed. That is its Achilles’ heel, as regular DOM significantly affects the performance, especially in single-page applications.
Here both React and Vue.js leave Angular behind, as both of them use virtual DOM. It is a copy of the actual DOM where changes are made without affecting the DOM proper. The updated virtual DOM is compared to a snapshot of the regular DOM, and then only the modified components are re-rendered. This approach significantly speeds up the application performance.
With respect to front-end development, scalability mostly refers to the ability to consistently maintain an expanding functionality. Applications are supposed to grow in size and complexity, and the development platform should be able to support such growth.
The developers’ community is almost unanimous in saying that both Angular and React prove to be up to the task when it concerns building scalable applications. Angular provides scalability with its modular development structure, while React uses a component-based approach with equally superb results.
The 2017 Stack Overflow Developer Survey named React the most loved framework among the developers. Being a creation of the Facebook team, it enjoys unparalleled popularity and support. React community now exceeds thirty thousand members, all of them contributing their knowledge and expertise to its development.
Angular is traditionally appreciated for its advantages and can boast quite considerable community support. Although, the statistics by bestof.js shows that the initial version of Angular – AngularJS, or Angular 1 – still has much more followers than its later versions.
The same statistics prove that, despite its advantages, Vue.js is still far from being very popular among the developers.
The community size is not about prestige – its effect is much more practical.
The more people cooperate on the framework functionality, the better it gets and, what’s even more important, the greater its library collection becomes.
With React, you are sure to find reusable components of all sorts that have been contributed by peer developers.
Therefore, if community support and the availability of ready-made components is critical for you, React may be your best shot.
If you already have a front-end developer, your choice is much easier. If your developer is an Angular developer – well, you are going to have an Angular project, simple as that.
At the same time, team selection is one of the important matters to consider while planning the project. Of course, with the wide popularity of Angular and React, you are much better off finding reputed professionals for either of these technologies than if you opted for Vue.js.
Vue.js developers seem to be few and far between; however, with its easy learning curve, a skilled front-end developer will have little trouble learning Vue.js quickly.
Depending on your situation, you can either hire in-house or remote Angular, React or Vue.js developers by hunting them through local job portals or freelance platforms (for example, Upwork).
Or, you can even hire an entire remote product development team through agencies that specialize in full-cycle product development outsourcing and/or extending your existing team with additional developers in particular technology stack (such as Clutch).
Your choice of team will depend on many factors – your location, project budget, NDA requirements, and so on.
Acceptance and adoption by global brands
No matter how good a framework is, its reputation and popularity still play a key role in its acceptance. Besides, when you build an application on a popular and widely-used platform, its further maintenance and support are going to be much easier.
Let’s look at the brands that have adopted each of the frameworks for their front-end. You will be impressed by the names you see in each group:
Google (of course!)
Facebook (you bet!)
There is also an interesting observation that should be considered if you are planning to outsource software development. As we said already, Vue.js is more popular in Asia, mostly, in China. This trend has its flip side – being less known in the US, Vue.js may be rejected by the US-based customers who would prefer Angular or React for their projects.As you can see, Angular and React have some true global heavyweights among their users, and that gives them an additional “pro” argument. However, Vue.js, despite its geographic popularity being shifted to the Asian countries, is also winning the users’ trust – look at WizzAir and Grammarly that made it their framework of choice.
As you can see, all three frameworks have their advantages and disadvantages. The choice of the right tool for your project is unique in all cases and highly depends on the particular solution requirements.
We summarized the pros and cons of each framework so that you can get a general idea:
|Developers community||large||very large||small|
|Acceptance and trust||high||high||cautious|
We still should answer the big question – when to choose each of the three frameworks? How to leverage their advantages to the maximum?
On the basis of the main advantages and disadvantages of each of the three frameworks, we worked out the following criteria that can help you choose the most optimal platform for your project:
Choose Angular when:
- You are about to develop a very large and complex project
- You need easy and reliable scalability
- You have Angular developers on your team
- You can afford some time for learning TypeScript before the project starts
Choose React when:
- Your project can accept reusable components
- Your project’s front-end is not too complex
- The performance and scalability are critical
- You have tight deadlines
Choose Vue.js when:
- Your project scope is on the small side
- You need high performance
- You do not have much time to learn a new technology
Of course, Angular, React, and Vue.js are by no means the only front-end development frameworks on the market. There are many exciting tools suited for projects of various size and complexity. With the right approach and a bit of common sense, it should not be too difficult to gather the technology stack capable of delivering a great software solution.